Bemidji State swept in four-game weekend series with South Dakota
Monday, March 22, 2004
OMAHA, Neb. - Bemidji State’s baseball team saw its losing streak to open the 2004 season reach 14 games over the weekend, as the Beavers dropped four games to South Dakota at the LaVista Sports Complex in Omaha. Three of BSU’s four losses to the Coyotes came by a single run - 4-3 in the series opener, and 1-0 and 6-5 on Sunday. South Dakota triumphed 12-1 in the Saturday nightcap.

South Dakota grabbed a 3-0 lead after two innings in Game 1. The Coyotes manufactured a run in the first after a leadoff walk to Robin Chute. Chute stole second, advanced to third when BSU needed to throw to first after a dropped strike three, then scored on a balk. The Coyotes added two in the second, scoring John Quade after he led off with a triple and Bryan Hohenthaner, who reached on an error.

That lead held until the fifth, when South Dakota plated a single run, scoring Vincent Flores on an RBI single by Todd Schmidtke.

Bemidji State attempted a rally in the top of the seventh, and would get within a single run before the Coyotes squashed the rally. Jared Podraza led off with a single, and after a walk to Tony Klaers would come around to score on an RBI double from Dan Wagner. Chris Dvorak grounded out to second to drive in Klaers, and Wagner would later score on an RBI single off the bat of Matt Middendorf. But Sean Ross grounded out to second for the third out, ending the BSU rally and leaving the Beavers with a 4-3 loss.

Russell Berner took the hard-luck loss for BSU. He allowed just two earned runs (four total) on eight hits with four strikeouts in five innings of work. BSU supported Berner with just two hits and committed three errors in the field.

Bemidji State was never in the Saturday nightcap. South Dakota led 3-0 after four innings, held BSU to just two hits in the game’s first six innings, and blew the game open with a nine-run fifth. BSU’s lone run in the 12-1 defeat was unearned, and came in the second inning on an RBI single from Wagner after Podraza reached on an error to lead off the inning.

Scott Pugliese took the loss in Game 2. He allowed seven runs (all earned) on 10 hits in four innings. He struck out four and walked two.

BSU dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker in Game 1 of Sunday’s double-header, seeing its best pitching performance of the season wasted by an offense which generated just five hits. Tyler Norland pitched a six-inning complete game for the Beavers, holding South Dakota to just a single run on five hits with three strikeouts. Norland did not walk or hit a South Dakota batter, and allowed just four runners as far as second base in the game.

But BSU’s offense could not take advantage of several prime scoring opportunities throughout the contest. The Beavers loaded the bases with one out in the first and failed to score; had a runner thrown out at the plate and again loaded the bases with one out in the second; left runners at first and second in the fourth; and had another runner thrown out at the plate and left men on first and second in the fifth.

Game 4 was a back-and-forth affair which would eventually see BSU drop its third one-run decision of the weekend. South Dakota scored one in the first; BSU answered with one in the second. South Dakota pulled ahead with two in the bottom of the second, but BSU responded with a pair to start the third. The Coyotes grabbed a one-run lead with a run in the third, but BSU grabbed its first lead of the weekend with two runs in the fourth. But South Dakota scored two runs of its own in the fourth and this time BSU had no answer, eventually falling 6-5.

Ross went 2-for-4 with an RBI double, a two-run home run and two runs scored, Jon Czech had two hits and Podraza reached base the first three times he stepped to the plate. But the Coyotes retired each of the last 10 BSU batters of the game, capped by a perfect three-inning relief appearance by Brian Kungl to slam the door and prevent another BSU rally.

For the weekend, Bemidji State hit just .194 as a team, and no BSU player had more than three hits. BSU’s pitching staff had perhaps its best weekend of the season, holding the Coyotes to less than 10 hits per game with a staff ERA of 6.00. And those numbers are inflated by the single 12-run game allowed in Game 2.

The four losses to South Dakota this weekend drop Bemidji State to 0-14 to open the 2004 season. The 14 consecutive losses to open the season leave Bemidji State with the second-worst start in school history, trailing only an 0-16 record in a winless 1958 season. BSU has now lost 15 consecutive games dating back to last season, the fourth-longest losing streak in school history.

Bemidji State is back in action March 27-28 when it opens Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play at Southwest Minnesota State. The Beavers will play the Mustangs in a 1:30 p.m. double-header on March 27 and a noon twinbill on March 28.